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Tour Code : ITTNZ-14, Duration : 13 Days

Highlights Itinerary at a Glance
- Auckland
- Motuihe Island
- Waikato farmlands
- Nikau Caves
- Wairaki geothermal area
- Tongariro National Park
- Wellington
- Abel Tasman National Park
- Marahau
- Murchison, a small town
- Punakaiki
- Fox Glacier
- Queenstown
- Mount Cook
Day 1 : Auckland
Day 2 : Auckland - Nikau Caves - Rotorua
Day 3 : Rotorua - Tongariro National Park
Day 4 : Tongariro National Park
Day 5 : Tongariro National Park - Wellington
Day 6 : Wellington - Abel Tasman Ferry Crossing
Day 7 : Marahau - Abel Tasman
Day 8 : Marahau - Punakaiki
Day 9 : Punakaiki - Fox Glacier
Day 10 : Fox Glacier - Haast Pass
Day 11 : Queenstown
Day 12 : Queenstown - Mt Cook
Day 13 : Mt Cook - Christchurch
Day 14 : Auckland

Detailed Itinerary
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Day 1 : Auckland
Auckland - New Zealand

Day 1 starts with a short drive to the waterfront where we board our yacht for a day's sailing on Auckland's sparkling Waitemata Harbour. The harbour is situated in the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park. Before long, you will discover why Auckland is known as the City of Sails. Try your hand on the helm, learn the elements of sailing, or just sit back, relax and enjoy the sea breeze. A little after midday we drop anchor at a sheltered bay and enjoy a buffet lunch. Time to enjoy a swim at Motuihe Island or go for a walk along its' golden sands learning a little about the Island's history as you go. In the late afternoon we return to Auckland and make our way back to the comfort and quiet of the Barrycourt Motor Inn which is handy to Parnell Village and downtown Auckland. (L)
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Day 2 : Auckland - Nikau Caves - Rotorua
On day 2 we head southwards through the fertile Waikato farmlands and out to a private cave system close to the coast. Here we meet Phillip and Ann plus their delightful family. A chance to meet real New Zealanders on their home ground. Changing to boots and overpants we enter their private cave system with its' glowworms and stalagmites providing a sense of wonder. After approximately an hour underground we exit and enjoy a luncheon spread amidst the beautiful gardens. Finally it's back on board and the drive onto Rotorua to check into our accommodation. In the evening we visit a lakeside marae (the traditional centre of Maori life). Our Ngati Rongomai hosts welcome us onto their marae before entertaining us with a Maori concert. This is followed by a hangi (food cooked in an earth oven). Our hosts will explain every step of this very special cultural experience to us. Returning to the Resort for the night. (B, L, D)
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Day 3 : Rotorua - Tongariro National Park
We start the day with a walk through a grove of mighty Redwoods on the edge of an extensive Forest Park, then visit an area of boiling mud pools. We explore one of New Zealand's most colourful thermal areas, visit the Wairaki geothermal area and then travel on to the Huka Falls where the mighty Waikato River thunders through a narrow chasm. After a short walk along the banks of the river we drive along the eastern shores of Lake Taupo and on to Tongariro National Park, New Zealand's first National Park and now a World Heritage Site. We stay the next two nights at the Ruapehu Skotel. (B, L)

Day 4 : Tongariro National Park
Today you can choose either a more demanding hike up Mount Ruapehu (an active volcano) to the crater lake, or easier walks on the lower slopes of the mountain. Both are guided. For those who choose to go up the mountain, the chairlifts take us from the car park to the 2,000 metre (6,560ft) level from where we set off up Restful Ridge and across the upper snow slopes to Dome Shelter at an altitude of 2,672 m (8,764ft). This part of the hike takes about two and a half hours. From Dome shelter we look out across the crater lake and surrounding snow covered peaks from one of the highest points in the North Island. For those who choose to walk on the lower slopes we enjoy one or more beautiful and diverse walks in the area among the fascinating volcanic landscape. We return to the Ruapehu Skotel for the night. (B, L)

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Day 5 : Tongariro National Park - WellingtonTongariro National Park - New Zealand
On day 5 we can rest and relax as we drive south through sheep and cattle farming areas stopping for morning tea and a wander in a beautiful parklike rural garden. We then continue across the Rangitaiki and Manawatu Plains and along the Kapiti coastline to arrive in Wellington, our capital city. Close to our hotel is Te Papa, the country's new national museum where we can spend time exploring. Then an early evening visit to the country's latest conservation experiment with an urban wildlife reserve and the chance to hear and perhaps see the kiwi, our native national symbol. (B, L)
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Day 6 : Wellington - Abel Tasman
In the early morning we board the InterIsland ferry and sail across Cook Strait then through the scenic Marlborough Sounds to Picton. Today we paddle our sea kayaks on the sheltered waters of Queen Charlotte Sound, stopping for lunch at a picturesque bush rimmed bay. The double kayaks are very stable, easy to paddle, and a delightful way to travel. Towards the end of our three hour kayak journey we paddle close to a small colony of shags perched high in the overhanging trees. Mid afternoon we drive through the hills and forest, and the sunshine city of Nelson located in an area well known for its' horticulture and craftwork and close to the world renowned Abel Tasman National Park. Following the beautiful coastline we arrive at Marahau right on the edge of the park. Here we stay the next two nights at the Marahau Lodge hosted by Jan Caird. (B, L)
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Day 7 : Marahau - Abel Tasman Walkway
In the morning we are whisked up the coastline in our water taxi with the beautiful golden beaches fringing the bushclad slopes. Often we encounter seals playing on Tonga Island or even dolphins. On shore we join the walkway and hike back towards our start enjoying the swimming, beaches and bush. A late lunch, some more walking and swimming and finally back on board our water taxi for the short trip back to our Lodge. (B, L)

Day 8 : Marahau - Punakaiki
Our adventure today is white water rafting. First we drive inland to Murchison, a small town nestled in a valley by the Buller river. We slip into wetsuits, and after some instruction from our experienced guide, head off down the moderately graded Buller River which is a near perfect river for first time rafters. We spend about two and a half to three hours on the river. After a picnic lunch we drive down the scenic Buller Gorge and then southwards along the spectacular and rugged West Coast. Further down the coast we stop at Punakaiki, home of the famous Pancake Rocks for a beautiful river walk. Our accommodation this night is at Punakaiki Rocks Hotel. (B, L)

Day 9 : Punakaiki - Fox Glacier
Today we continue southwards along the narrow coastal strip of Westland - bounded on one side by the rugged coastline of the Tasman Sea and on the other by dense bush and a distant wall of mountains - the Southern Alps. The area is steeped in history from the heady goldrush days of the last century, to the long years of coalmining and timber milling. We stop briefly to visit the Bushman's Centre and its unusual residents, then continue through extensive areas of luxuriant forest to Fox Glacier, in the Westland National Park (another World Heritage Site). After lunch we walk across the moraine to the terminal face of the spectacular Fox Glacier (approximately 200 metres (656 feet) above sea level) and then up and out onto the white ice. Over the past several years the glacier has increased in size, and has advanced almost a kilometre down the valley. Later we take a leisurely stroll around Lake Matheson, a photographer's paradise with its' magnificent bush and mountain reflections. An optional extra (time and weather permitting) includes a helicopter ride and landing on the upper Fox Glacier nevé. We stay the night in Fox Glacier Village at the Rainforest Motels. (B, L)

Day 10 : Fox Glacier - Haast Pass - QueenstownFox Glacier - Haast Pass - Queenstown
We make an early start travelling southwards along the coast and then inland over the scenic Haast Pass, along a road which follows the ancient greenstone (jade) trail used by early Maori. In mid morning we arrive at Makarora and take a 25 minute flight in a small 6 seater plane around some of the finest scenery in the Mt Aspiring National Park before we land in a remote and peaceful valley, hemmed in by bush and magnificent mountains. From our landing point we cross a shallow riverbed and then head off down the valley on a 3 hour hike through mature beech forest and grass covered river flats. Fantails occasionally act as our guides flitting from branch to branch along the way. At the end of our walk we are met by a jetboat which takes us on an exhilarating 20 kilometre (12 mile) ride down the Wilkin and Makarora Rivers back to our vehicle. From here we continue our journey passing alongside Lake Hawea and through Wanaka township. We end this wonderful day with a drive over the Crown Range to Queenstown. Our hotel in Queenstown enjoys magnificent views across the Frankton Arm towards the Remarkables Range and up Lake Wakitipu towards Walter and Cecil Peaks. Our accommodation for the next two nights is at the Aspen on Queenstown. (B, L)

Day 11 : Queenstown
Day 11 is a free day. Some optional activities include a round trip to Milford Sound by coach and/or plane and launch; a trip to Skippers Canyon (an old gold mining area) a historic steam boat ride across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak sheep station; ride on the gondola; a visit to Arrowtown and Gibbstown winery; a walk around the public parks and gardens; relaxing by the lake; or shopping in the sun-filled malls. We stay the night at the Aspen on Queenstown. (B)
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Day 12 : Queenstown - Mt Cook
Today we travel through the Kawarau Gorge, where large quantities of gold were dredged and sluiced around the turn of the century. The stone remains of the occasional miners hut, remind us of man's earlier lonely presence in the area. We stop for morning tea before crossing the Lindis Pass and continuing on through the tussock plains of the Mackenzie Country and along the shores of the pastel blue Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook National Park. After lunch we walk up the Hooker Valley towards New Zealand's highest peak - Mount Cook, crossing two long swing bridges on the way. You'll feel dwarfed by the mountains which tower above us, well known as the playground and graduation school of New Zealand's best mountaineers. Take time to sit awhile and enjoy the spectacular mountain scenery and perhaps watch the alpine glow as the sun sets on the mountains from your motel unit. (B, L)
Day 13 : Mt Cook - ChristchurchChristchurch - New Zealand
The final day starts with a unique boat trip on the lake at the bottom of the Tasman Glacier. This high value interpretation highlight provides an insight into the history of the ice and its past advances and retreats. The mountain backdrop is spectacular. Later in the morning we leave for Lake Tekapo where we visit The Church of The Good Shepherd (a small stone church built on the picturesque shoreline, as a memorial to the early runholders of the Mackenzie Country). Nearby stands a bronze monument, a tribute to the district's early high country sheep dogs. Our final lunch is taken with a farming family where we share their lifestyle and watch the skill of the famed sheepdogs, as well as experiencing a sheep being shorn. Further on we pass through the rural township of Geraldine and shortly emerge onto the fertile Canterbury Plains arriving late afternoon (approximately 6pm) in the garden city of Christchurch. (B, L)
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